Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Year of Change

Today is the first day of 2014 and my one year Fit-Versary. It's one year to the day that I decided that I needed something different for my life, and that the path that I was on would inevitably lead to an early death. I knew that if I didn't change I would prematurely leave my children without a mother, my husband without a wife, and there would be no one to blame but me. It was my choice regardless of the many excuses I had for the hopeless situation that I found myself in. My excuses were many, I had three children and no time to exercise, I had a house to clean, clothes to be washed, children that needed me, playdates, carpools,  a business that needed my attention, and at the end of the day there never seemed to be enough time for me. I realized that those things were not going to go away anytime soon and so if I really wanted this, if I really wanted to change that I would have to do something to find time for me. So my new years resolution was simple. Me first. It felt selfish and it felt unnatural. The truth is I didn't need all day, so devoting an hour to my overall health was not only good for me but it was great for my family. I was doing it for them too, and they reaped the rewards along with me.
My overall health was a huge priority, so not only did I want to lose weight but I also wanted to avoid depression medication (which I have struggled with for years) and I wanted to reduce the risk factors that I had (cholesterol and a family history of diabetes). These were all things I felt I could control I just didn't know how. A lot of this year has been trial and error and with so many fad diets and get thin quick schemes out there its really hard to filter out the "noise". I knew what I did would have to be sustainable and realistic, so I committed to only do things that I felt I could keep up with forever. Thats a hard So diets dependent on shakes, or meetings or special food purchases were out.  I also didn't want to deprive myself of anything or limit my diet to only specific foods so things like the paleo diet were out. I'm not knocking anyones choices, I just knew for me this wouldn't work. I love food and being from two cultures (Maltese and Armenian) where food is so much a part of our social and cultural life I didn't want to struggle with limited food options. This year has not been without its struggles and I still have a long way to go and a lifetime of maintenance but I started. Starting is half the battle. I have since lost 66lbs and all of my levels are normal and my battles with depression, while not completely gone have become far more manageable. The reason I write this entry is not because I think I have all the answers, Im not sure if I have any to be honest but one thing I know for sure is that there is someone out there on this New Years day who is in the same position that I was. Feeling hopeless, lost and really not knowing where to start. I have been asked what my secret is and how Im doing this and while I don't pretend to have all the answers here are some of the things that have helped me over the course of this year.


1. Journal your food. I use http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ Its free and a great tool to help you figure out how many calories you are eating and track your calories burned. It sounds daunting but so many of the foods I was eating were already in there so its quite easy

2. Learn to cook foods you love in a different way. You don't have to give up mac n cheese or chocolate cake but you do have to learn to cook them differently. My absolute favorite places to get recipes are from http://www.skinnytaste.com/ and these two books 

The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger

Light & Healthy 2010: The Year's Best Recipes Americas Test Kitchen


If the budget is tight check them out from your local library. I know in my county you can browse online and actually request books from other libraries if yours doesn't carry it and they will deliver it to your local library.


3. Find an exercise you enjoy. I have lots of friends that run but I HATE running. Seriously unless something is chasing me forget it. Don't force yourself to like something just because everyone else is doing it. So walking is my exercise of choice and Zumba. I love them both and actually look forward to my time doing it.


4. Its ok to go slow. Don't be discouraged if you "only" lose a half a pound in a week. Its ok to go slow. Whats the rush?


5. Get out of your pj's. This was hard for me but I found that if I laced up my sneakers and got into my gym clothes first thing in the morning I was much more inclined to exercise. If I stay in my pj's then thats where I would stay. This goes for the weekend too!


6. Honor yourself. You are better than secretly going through a drive thru and shoveling food in a parking lot. Honor yourself by cooking a meal at home, putting it on a plate and sitting down to enjoy it.


7. Meal plan. I make a menu for the week and grocery shop to make sure I have all my ingredients. This is huge time and money saver and keeps us from eating out.


8. Take measurements and progress pictures. Its amazing to go back and look at how far you have come!


9. Don't beat yourself up. If you have a meal you're not really proud congratulations you are human! ;)  Log it and move forward, don't let it derail the hard work you have put in.


10. Don't do it alone. Whether its finding a weight loss community on instagram or having a best friend join you. Don't do it alone. The power of having someone on your side who has been there and understands this struggle is invaluable, even if its just one person!


These are some of the things that have helped me. Like I said Im no expert and I have a long way to go but its important to get started. I wish you the best in all your fitness goals this coming year and if you need a little inspiration or need motivation or someone who just gets it you can find me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/fitrox Heres to a healthy 2014!







Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winner Winner Spinach Lasagna Dinner

So I have been cooking a ton lately. My new years resolution was not to lose weight but to simply take better care of myself. This means putting myself first and not only cooking for my family but actually taking the time to cook for myself. I never took the time to cook breakfast for myself or lunch. I have been trying a lot of new healthy recipes this week and I have been over the moon excited about the results. I want to eat cleaner and healthier but I want my family to eat with me and to be honest that shit needs to be delicious. Don't come at me with a 7 grain sunflower seeds buckwheat bread. Its not realistic for me because I just think that stuff is gross. If I am going to eat bread its going to be white, sourdough and preferably with a crusty crust :) Having said that I have been trying to find simple alternatives that hopefully the children and the husband wouldn't turn their nose to. Cue Americans Test Kitchen Spinach Lasagna. This book is INCREDIBLE and everything that I have made has been spot on and well received by the boys. Like most moms I dont have time for recipes that dont work! A lot of people asked for the recipe and rather than sending a facebook message and subjecting everyone to a bazillion replies I thought I'd share it here. I checked this book out from the library but will definitely be buying it and I already ordered their other healthy recipe book.





Source:Light & Healthy 2010: The Year's Best Recipes Lightened Up


Serves:8
Calories 350
Fat: 14g
Sat Fat: 7g
Cholesterol: 70mg


Sauce: 

1 onion, minced
1 tsp canola oil
salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups 1% milk
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbs cornstarch
2 (10oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeeze dry and finely chop
1 oz grated parmesan cheese (around a 1/2 cup)

Layers:

8 oz whole-milk cottage cheese (about 1 cup) dont freak out i thought it was weird too but it works
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
12 no-boil lasagna noodles  (I used Barilla)
2 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
vegetable oil spray (i used my misto and sprayed olive oil)
6 oz fontina Italian fontina cheese, shredded (i used whole milk mozarella it was just easier to find and i didnt want to go to another store)

Directions

For the sauce:
1. Combine the onion, oil and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds). Stir in 2 3/4 cups of milk, bay leaves and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. 

2. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together, then whisk into the pot. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the spinach and Parmesan until incorporated and no clumps of spinach remain.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm and set it aside.

For the layers:
3. Position oven rack 6" from broiler element, adjust a second oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425º.

4. Process the cottage cheese, egg, and salt in a food processor until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

5. Pour 1" of boiling water in a 13x9 baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let the noodles soak about 5 minutes and use a knife to separate them so they dont stick. Remove the noodles from the water and place them in a single layer on a kitchen towel. Discard the water, dry the baking dish and coat the inside with vegetable oil spray.

Assembling 
6. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce evenly over the bottom of the baking disk. Position 3 noodles on top of the sauce. Spread 3/4 cup more sauce evenly oer the noodles, sprinkle with the parmesan, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 3/4 cup more sauce evenly over the noodles, sprinkle with 3/4 cup of fontina, and top with 3 more noodles. Spread 3/4 cup more sauce evenly over the noodles, followed by the cottage cheese mixture.  Finish with remaining 3/4 cup fontina.

7. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna on the middle oven rack for 20 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and remove the foil. Heat the broiler and broil the lasagna until the cheese is browning about 4 to 6 minutes. Let it cool for 15 min before serving (its hard but really let it or it will be difficult to cut and serve. 





Friday, September 7, 2012

Routine

I crack up thinking how excited I was for Summer to start. This was the first time in two years that I hadn't just had a baby, and I had big dreams. I dreamt of bonfires at the beach, concerts in the park, the farmers market, and doing all sorts of fun activities with the boys. In public. Where there were other people. Clearly I was not in my right from of mind when I was dreaming up that summer scenario. Truth is, with the boys at completely different stages, and not having any help (i totally get why people hire nanny's now) it's really difficult to take the boys out on my own. When I do it usually ends with me sweating enough to fill an olympic size pool, and just being completely stressed out, thinking I may have lost a child. If I have learned anything this summer, it is that it's ok that we didn't have a bonfire at the beach, that we only made it to one concert in the park, and I haven't visited a single farmers market. Its OK. Its OK! This is life right now. It challenging and I learned that the boys were content going to an indoor play gym, to a friends house, doing a craft at home or simply going out into the backyard for water play. Lets not forget we went camping. Like in a tent. There was that. We actually had a great summer, Nick is always there on the weekend ready to do something with them and during the week we were lucky enough to visit friends. It was enough and they were happy. At the end of summer I was ready for the school year to begin and it took us about a week to get our routine back but its in full swing and everyone seems to be much more content. I love my routine. Even if its the same every day, but I know come June I will be dreaming of bonfires, concerts in the park and the farmers market again ;) 

Here is a little glimpse of an average day. For those of you who have instagram find me under araxi! I try to post something daily and you can see pictures without having to read all my ramblings.

   




















Saturday, August 11, 2012

The One Where He Made A Video

When I see my life I see it in snippets. In moments, and those moments are always very specific. I remember the people, the faces, the moments but rarely is it fluid and rarely do I see it in motion. Luckily for me I married a man who sees the motion, so now I have the best of both of those worlds. Nick compiled our home videos, and since last night when he uploaded it, the kids and I have easily watched it 1348924132 times :)